A cheap drum set is the perfect starter kit for the novice percussionist. The general costs involved are easy to compare and work into a spending plan.
Starting Small Makes Sense
The challenge with drumming can be summed up in one word: coordination. While practice is certainly beneficial to increasing ability, playing the drums is very different than playing piano or guitar. Not everyone has a natural sense of rhythm. Even professional musicians still practice an hour or more each day when on tour, and two-to-four hours off-tour.
It's best not to invest in a fancy kit when you're not even certain you can make all four limbs operate independently, much less well enough to create a beat everyone else in the band relies on. Therefore, it's important to find an affordable kit so you can test the waters with minimal risk.
Finding Cheap Drum Sets
The Internet makes it easier than ever to find cheap drum sets.
Practice Pad Sets
Many professionals use a kit like this to practice on while traveling, but it's also an inexpensive starter set to see if you really have the chops. Practice pads are also purchased for a regular kit to keep the noise level to a minimum.
zZounds offers free shipping on a super-quiet DW set with a stand, hardware, and pads representing the tom, cymbal, snare, floor tom, and bass drum, although the bass pedal is not included. This excellent practice kit is currently listed at $169.95.
Active Musician lists a similar 5-piece practice kit by TKO for $119.99. This website sometimes offers free shipping on orders that total over $199.
This is the standard starter kit for children because it is inexpensive and smaller in size than a traditional drum kit. Although many older children play well on a full-sized set, a three-piece version is a better place to start until you know that the child really has a desire and ability to become a drummer. Young students with aptitude will develop the fundamentals of drumming in no time on a small kit like this.
Try this model from Percussion Plus, which includes a bass drum, small tom, cymbal, and snare, smaller drumsticks, and the bass drum pedal. All of this is included for $199.99 plus shipping.
The internet auction eBay has a wide selection of three-piece junior drum sets to choose from, some with a low "buy it now" price of less than $100. Remember that eBay is constantly adding new products, so check back often. Don't forget to factor in shipping, and make sure to verify the seller's rating and the components that come included in the kit.
Yard sales are often a good place to pick up an inexpensive starter kit, as well as the website Craigslist. Craigslist is basically an online classified section, so select the city closest to where you live and see what people are listing.
Five-Piece Drum Sets
There are a variety of five-piece cheap drum sets available for the teenager or beginning adult drummer. Don't be swayed by high end cymbals, drum skins, or fancy drumsticks as they are all items that inflate the overall cost. A cheap drum set is usually reasonably-priced and well-manufactured without all the fancy bells and whistles of top-shelf kits. The basic components are good enough to help you build skill before investing in higher-priced equipment.
The Ludwig Junior Five-Piece Drum Set is a great step up from a child's three-piece kit. The entry price is around $300, and the set includes three toms, bass drum, snare drum, one cymbal, one hi-hat, bass pedal, and drum throne.
Another good option for the beginner or intermediate player is the Gamon Five Piece drum set. This kit is available for right around $200 and includes bass drum, three toms, one snare, one cymbal, one hi-hat, bass pedal, drum throne, and drumsticks.
As you build your budget for a cheap drum set, consider these other important tools for drumming:
- Drum throne, otherwise known as a stool. Proper posture is critical to health and performance, so look for an adjustable stool.
- Packs of drumsticks. Drumsticks break frequently, so it's good to have spares.
- Metronome. One of the smartest drumming accessories, a metronome helps a new drummer learn different time signatures.
- Earplugs or headphones. Protect your ears during frequent practice. Other members of the household might appreciate earplugs or headphones as well.
- Check with your local music store for guidance on drum lessons. Some choose to take lessons from a professional for weeks before purchasing a cheap drum set. However, since most lessons require follow-up practice at home, you still might need a practice pad set to use until you think a full kit is worth the investment.
- Learn to Play Drums is a multimedia training system.
- The book Drum Basics by Sandy Gennaro answers many questions a beginner may have.
- Drums for Dummies by Jeff Strong is quick reference to playing the drums.